[Blackstudies-l] The perilous plight of Haiti’s children

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Tue Dec 26 19:19:25 EST 2017

New post on *Repeating Islands*
<http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/> The perilous plight of
Haiti’s children
ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>

*[image: children1060371]*

*Jacqueline Charles (Miami Herald
writes, “They’re abandoned and separated. This is the perilous plight of
Haiti’s children.” Here are excerpts:*

[. . .] “Your dad, what is his name?” asks Michelot Difficile. “Tonton?
Tonton what?”

Difficile works on the Haiti-Dominican border with the International
Organization for Migration, which helps Haiti’s child welfare agency, the
Institut du Bien-Être Social et de Recherches, or IBESR <http://ibesr.com/>,
reunite abandoned and separated children with their families. The United
Nations’ agency also monitors trafficking along the border.

On this day, Difficile isn’t sure whether the youngster is intentionally
stonewalling him, as traffickers often coach their young victims to do, or
whether he truly can’t remember where he’s from. In July, the boy was
picked up in the market in the Haitian border city of Ouanaminthe, and
transported by IBESR to a safe house at the end of a winding dirt road.

“He doesn’t talk,” said Judith Surlin, the social worker who runs the safe
house opened by the Soeurs Saint-Jean religious order. “No one has ever
come to ask for him.” Jefferson’s stay at the shelter was supposed to be
temporary — 15 days at the most. But he’s been here now for six months, the
longest of any of the 20 children currently under Surlin’s care. Most of
the children, she said, were abandoned by their parents in Haiti. Two were
separated from their parents after they were deported by the Dominican
Republic, as part of its continuing effort to repatriate undocumented
Haitians and Dominicans born of Haitian descent who were retroactively
their citizenship after a 2013 Dominican court ruling.

In a country where thousands of children are trafficked every year, the
plight of Haiti’s children along this porous border is a perilous one.
There are the street children, who have nowhere to go after fleeing abuse
or being abandoned by their parents. There are those who are deported to
Haiti without their parents, like 6-year-old Roberto, who was sent across
the bridge by Dominican officials after he was picked up. Some are outright
victims of trafficking, like Guerline, a 15 year-old sitting next to
Jefferson who said her brother-in-law was arrested by Haiti National Police
officers as he attempted to cross with her into the Dominican Republic. [.
. .]

Supported by UNICEF and IOM, the safe house is in many ways a lifesaver. [.
. .]

[. . .] The child protection specialists acknowledge that the temporary
shelter, which can house only 30 kids, doesn’t begin to make a dent in the
desperate plight of Haiti’s border children. [. . .]

With its child welfare system under a cloud of international scrutiny,
Haitian officials vowed to do more to protect children. Last year, the
government launched its first ever foster care system, and in May, Haiti
finally came into full compliance
the Hague Adoption Convention regulating international adoptions. “We
recognize their effort to combat trafficking,” said Robin Diallo, interim
chargé d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. “But there is
still work to do.”

Human trafficking, especially involving children along the 245-mile border
dividing Haiti and the Dominican Republic, remains a daunting concern — so
much so that Haiti-born actors Garcelle Beauvais and Jimmy Jean-Louis
recently teamed up to star in and co-produce the film Lalo’s House,
<http://www.lunionsuite.com/lalos-house-garcelle-beauvais/> about Haiti’s
child trafficking crisis. [. . .]

But with hundreds of thousands of children still being exploited as
domestic servants or restaveks, and “a significant number” of children
fleeing employers’ homes or abusive families for the streets, the
government needs to do more, the report said.

Adding to the concern, say IOM officials, who, before funding ran out on
Oct. 31, had closely monitored the four official border crossings for
trafficking, are the ongoing deportations of Haitians from the Dominican
Republic. Among the 229,885 individuals who registered with IOM after
crossing into Haiti between July and September were thousands of children
who were returned without their parents — a violation of international law
and the agreement between the two countries, IOM said.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Olivier Tenes, head of IOM’s
operations in northeast Haiti. “In September, 156 minors have been
repatriated.” In all, 4,167 presumed unaccompanied and separated children
were returned to Haiti from the Dominican Republic between July and
September, according to IOM’s tracking data. And most of them came across
the Massacre River Bridge in Ouanaminthe. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/
*ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>* |
December 26, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Tags: Haiti
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/haiti/>, Haiti's children
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/haitis-children/>, IBESR
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/ibesr/>, Institut du Bien-Être Social et
de Recherches
| Categories: News <http://repeatingislands.com/category/news/> | URL:

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